Finding the right hosts and the right audiences are the real keys to getting guests spots. These 21 tips will not only help you do that, but also help you make the most of the guest spots you do land, leading to repeat requests for your presence as a guest.
- Pitch to Smaller but Active Shows
Keep in mind that highly popular shows may get so many pitches per week and the host never even gets to see them before they are declined by assistants as a matter of course.
A good rule of thumb: Pitch to someone who is just a few levels further up the ladder than you are.
- Ask if There is a List of Questions
Many hosts are happy to give you a heads-up on what they want to talk about, so you can do an awesome job. So, don’t be afraid to ask.
- Keep a Database of Potential Hosts You Contact
Use whatever program works for you: Excel, Evernote, an MS Word table, etc. List fields such as potential hosts’ contact preferences, upcoming launches or events, topics of interest—and whether or not you got a “yes” or “no”. Add a “Notes” field too.
Pitch regularly to this personal ‘list’: Not so often as to be a pest, but if you are aware of each host, you will be able to gauge when a pitching opportunity comes up—and feels right.
- Welcome Rejections
If you get rejection letters with more than an impersonal “we do not need guests at this time”, then use your “Notes” field in your potential host database to record specific reasons… so that next time, you can make sure the reason they turned you down is not an issue. (Example: If you got an “I always take the month of August off and will use already pre-recorded episodes”, you would make a note not to pitch that host for an August date the next year.)
- Soundproof Your World
Run a check before your guest spot to make sure you are not surrounded by or wearing anything that will make a noise during recording. This includes jangly bracelets, creaky desks, pots of pens that can be knocked over and squeaky shutters.
Turn off notifications on your computer, too.
- Have Memorable Quotes Ready
Look up a bunch of really appropriate and catchy quotes on your topic. Write your favorite few out on index cards, and have them at hand. Always credit the source, and remember to quote yourself too, if you can.
If you’ve written a book, quote from your own book! If you run a blog, quote from your best blog post.
- Smartphone Tip
If you have to use a smartphone to give an interview, hold it in your hand and treat it like a phone call. There will be less chance of accidentally catching ambient noise in the room.
- Use Cue Cards
Make these informal reminders of topic points you need to cover and have them laid out in plain sight on the desk or table beside you.
Include really obvious things like, “Remind people where they can reach me”—and actually write out your website URL or Twitter handle. (You’d be amazed how the brain can freeze up when you’re doing a live interview.)
- Mind Your Ps and Ss
Certain consonants make explosive sounds—most notably “p” and “s”. Record yourself well before hand and watch out for whether or not you are prone to this, or breathe too heavily into the microphone. Solve the problem by using a noise-canceling desk microphone and making sure you stay at least six inches away from it.
- Avoid Using Speakerphone Mode
Never, ever use a speaker phone for an interview. It will give poor quality every time, brand you as an amateur, and be hard on your listeners—and your host.
- Pitch Regularly
Being a podcast guest is like any other strategy: It works much better if you do it a lot. So, get into the habit of making at least two pitches a week.
The moment something becomes part of your routine, the less you’re likely to procrastinate or blow its stress factor out of proportion.
- Include Your Listener and Remember it’s a Conversation
Even while you are giving your host your undivided attention, remember that this is not a pedestal for you: It’s a three-way conversation between your host, you and your listener.
Speak TO your listener, as well as to your host by imagining your listener sitting around a table at a café with you and your host. Perhaps she is just silently nodding—but include her in the conversation by thinking of her in this way.
- Don’t Read, If You Can Help It
It might seem like a great idea to write out your call to action and read it out loud, but if you can help it, don’t do this. You risk breaking the conversational mood and suddenly coming off as salesy.
Look for the right cue or opportunity from your host. Pitch your message as a way to continue the conversation for the listener.
- Pay Attention to Volume
Before the call begins, make sure you are neither louder nor significantly quieter than your host. Run a soundcheck together.
- Offer a Gift
Sweeten the pot by offering your host a gift for her readers that is not normally available—one that is relevant to the topic being discussed. For example, if you’re talking about making book pitches to agents, offer listeners your exclusive pitching template that is normally only available to clients.
Another way to offer a gift: With your host’s permission, tell the audience there’s a helpful gift waiting for them at your specific landing page URL.
- Make Gifts Time Limited!
What you may not want is people helping themselves to your exclusive gift five years after the podcast episode. If you do want this, great! If not, be sure to state clearly (more than once, if you can do it naturally) that your gift is ONLY going to be available during the interview (or within XX hours after it).
Do this, and people listening two weeks after to your interview recording won’t be disappointed to discover it’s not available.
- Ask Your Host
One of the easiest ways to make sure you deliver: Ask your host! Ask her questions such as, “What is your typical listener’s biggest concern?” or, “What do you normally get the most questions about or requests for, on this topic?”
And do that well in advance, when you’ve been confirmed as a guest and you’re just starting to prepare for the interview.
- Note Taking Tips
If you habitually take notes while giving interviews, do it with a non-scratchy pen—practice this beforehand, to see which writing instrument is most soundless.
And whatever you do, especially if you’re using a stand-alone microphone, don’t hammer away on a computer keyboard!
- Stick to the Point
While it is great to be conversational, keep your responses or points as focused as possible. Don’t go off on a tangent unless it’s to illustrate one of your points. Don’t ramble. Don’t allow yourself to be side-tracked.
Above all, if you’re asked a question, answer it directly and clearly, then stop.
- Listen Ahead of Time
Listen to one or two of your host’s previous podcasts within an hour of going on air. It helps get you attuned to her conversational style and—especially if there are Q&A sessions afterwards—familiar with her audience.
- Your Message is Key
Don’t get hung up on remembering this or that, or the quality of your audio. Just follow best practices, do the best you can—and remember that your message is why the audience is listening.
After preparing the best you can, let it go and enjoy the experience. Listeners will forgive anything, if they really like you or appreciate the help you’re giving. And they will really like you, if you like them and focus on helping them and making them feel special.
Focus on your audience. Really listen to your host. Remember you are there to help, and go for it!